After Easter here in Spain, we had a week and a half of vacation from classes, so I decided to travel to the Netherlands and Belgium with a friend from HC who studies in Ireland. It was certainly an adventure and each city that we visited was unique in its own way.
We started out our trip in Amsterdam, a beautiful city made up of canals, where there are more bicycles than people! We toured the Anne Frank House, which was very sad and surreal. After learning about the history of Anne Frank in school, it was very strange to be in the same room where she and her family hid for 2 years to escape capture by the Nazis. It was very moving, and I was especially struck by hearing the church bells right outside of the window because those were the same bells that she heard and wrote about in her diary. We also visited the Van Gogh museum, strolled through the park, and walked along the endless canals. One of my favorite things that I did in Amsterdam was definitely a bicycle tour of the city; I recommend it for anyone who travels there! It lasted about two hours, we were able to see the entire city and learn about the history and culture at the same time. It was a very fun and relaxing way to see Amsterdam. While the city has a reputation of “sex and drugs”, the city has a rich culture and it is certainly much more than that!
After spending a few days in Amsterdam, we took a train to Brussels- well actually we ended up taking three different trains due to some issues, but don’t worry, I’ll explain. We bought our train tickets a few days in advance, went to the train station early in the morning, and hopped on a train to Brussels. Little did we know that we accidentally got onto the high-speed first class train that we shouldn’t have been on. By the time we realized that, however, the train was already moving. After about an hour, the train stopped, and I decided to ask the conductor if I was on the right train. Of course the answer was no, so we needed to get off the train and find the right one. So there we were, in a random train station in the Netherlands, with no clue how we would get to Brussels. We eventually managed to find the correct train, waited a half an hour, and got on. We were sitting on the train, extremely content to finally be on our way to Brussels, when all of a sudden, the conductor makes an announcement over the loudspeaker. Apparently there was a security issue on the train and everyone would need to get off and wait an hour for the next train to come. After three trains, we finally made it to Belgium, relieved to say the least. Just in the nick of time, I found wifi in the Brussels train station and successfully enrolled for classes my senior year on my ipod. Im still in shock that somehow that worked out!
Anyways, I really enjoyed Brussels and Bruges, and they were both completely different cities. While Brussels was much more modern, Bruges was extremely calm and peaceful, and I felt as if I had went back in time strolling through the canals and cobblestone streets. One of my highlights of Belgium was the self-guided chocolate tour that we did, aka we walked into every chocolate shop that we saw, ate free samples, or bought a piece of chocolate. I can’t even tell you how much chocolate I consumed in just a couple days. I have to admit, it was definitely the best chocolate of my life! We also ate plenty of Belgian waffles and Fries; needless to say we definitely experienced the typical food of the country! It was amazing that in only 6 days, we managed to see two different countries and three different cities that were each very unique. I couldn’t have asked for a better week!